Interface’s Net-Works programme helps the recovery of a rare double barrier reef in the Philippines
It’s a shame to discover one of the world’s natural wonders, a unique biological treasure called Danajon Bank in the central Visayas region of the Philippines, and find out that it’s been under terrible threat for decades.
Luckily, Interface with its partner the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and our innovative program Net-Works are doing our part to see to its recovery.
Danajon Bank (Da-na-haun) is a double barrier reef that is over 150 kilometres long. It’s very rare as there are only six double barrier reefs in the world (the largest one in the world is in the Solomon Islands). Running alongside the islands of Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, and Southern Leyte, some say it a place where marine life from the Pacific Ocean first evolved from! In any case, it’s a marine area of incredible richness and biodiversity.
But some of this is in the past. Today’s challenges include climate change, population growth, pollution and overfishing. Michael Ready, a naturalist photographer that visited Danajon Bank, explained that a particularly destructive factor has been the use of explosives for fishing, “blast fishing”, that though illegal continues in practice. This combined with overfishing means a once rich and colourful area is depleted. “In the water, I was immediately struck by that absence of fish,” he lamented.
The solution is multifaceted: finding ways to support fishermen to fish sustainably and to find alternative incomes. Seaweed farming (called “guso”) is one option; guso’s carrageenan is used in toothpaste, ice cream and shampoo. Another source of income for fisherman is the Net-Works program. Collecting discarded and unused fishing nets, they sell them to Interface where they are cleaned, packed up and exported for us to recycle them into carpet tiles. This act also helps ensure these nets aren’t discarded in the local ecosystem in a harmful way.
Another step forward has been the establishment of 34 Marine Protected Areas which allow life to return, corals to grow again, and a healthy and diverse ecosystem to rejuvenate.
Interface and ZSL chose Danajon Bank as a perfect location for its programme: a Pacific marine ecosystem of key importance yet one under threat by factors including discarded fishing nets; villagers that are poor and would benefit from a program that can help them financially.
We’re excited about being able to connect conservation with income-generation, and more so, we’re working with community banks so that villagers can keep the income they make from the nets safe, and even take out loans or insurance. Dr. Nick Hill, a Net-Works Project Manager, comments, “That’s a real legacy.” In the meantime, you may be walking on Interface carpet tile that was made from these recycled nets, helping communities and an environment far away.